Home Entertainment Guide: Best Pokémon Spin-Off Games Of All Time

Guide: Best Pokémon Spin-Off Games Of All Time

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Guide: Best Pokémon Spin-Off Games Of All Time
Best Pokémon Spin-Off Games Of All Time
Image: Nintendo Life

If there’s any franchise that’s no stranger to a spin-off or two, it’s Pokémon. The inherent appeal of the little Pocket Monsters makes the series ripe for all kinds of genres and video games. Name a genre, and Pokémon has most likely done it.

But, dear readers, what’s the very best Pokémon spin-off? That’s where you come in. We asked you, folks, to rate all of the Pokémon spin-offs that you’ve played, and this list is the result of your scores. We’re doing this in celebration of a childhood favourite, Pokémon Snap on the N64, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on 21st March 2024 — and we just aged another five years by typing that in…

Remember, if you’re not happy with the results, then fear not! You can vote for your favourites at any time — just click on the star next to the game you want to rate and you could influence the order of this list. This updates in real-time, and with so many good Pokémon spin-off games, it’s pretty tight at the top.

It should also go without saying that this list doesn’t include the mainline Pokémon games — that includes the Let’s Go! games and Legends: Arceus, which are classed as mainline Pokémon games by The Pokémon Company. We’ve got a separate list for those games below

Ready to vote for ’em all? Or just read ’em all? Go, reader!

51. Pokémon Dash (DS)

For the first Pokémon game to be released on the DS, Pokémon Dash is something a little bit different. Using the stylus to control and race with Pikachu is a novel idea but given the creativity of other DS games at the time, soon became outdated. It’s also a little bit too short for what it is, and it takes only a handful of hours to complete all of the races. As a result, this is often considered one of the weaker Pokémon spin-offs, and on a console that already has plenty of other games (mainline and side), this one isn’t worth dashing for.

50. Pokémon Smile (Mobile)

Other than the odd camera-darkening problem, we actually like Pokémon Smile. It isn’t going to give Smash Bros. a run for its money or anything like that, but it isn’t trying to: it’s a light-hearted, free way of trying to inject a little fun into an otherwise mundane task. Just bear in mind that it can be a little harsh when it comes to judging your brushing, and so you need to prepare your child for the reality that they won’t be catching a Pokémon every time they play. Essentially, it’s a fun little app to use to help get your kids into brushing their teeth, but little more than that.

49. Hey You, Pikachu! (N64)

In the ’90s and 2000s, everyone wanted to be friends with Pikachu, and what better way than talking to him through a microphone and having him act out all of your requests? Sadly, Hey You, Pikachu! is infamous for all of the wrong reasons. At first glance, using the microphone seems like a technical marvel, but in practice, the game just doesn’t work properly. With limited gameplay, Hey You, Pikachu! is more of a curio than something you should seek out and play. Still, it might appeal to the kids.

48. Pokémon Rumble Rush (Mobile)

Pokémon Rumble Rush is a charming game and it can be fun if you like collecting things. However, the awkward map feature and the requirement of refining ore to get gears to boost the Pokémon mean it’s sometimes a needlessly frustrating grind, and with the inclusion of a two-week deadline between area swaps, there’s some unwelcome added pressure thrown into the mix. This free-to-play Pokémon outing doesn’t set the world on fire, but the truly dedicated fans who have followed the Rumble series this far will enjoy it all the same.

47. My Pokémon Ranch (WiiWare)

My Pokémon Ranch is chock full of missed potential. There’s no question it’s an ideal game for young, fledgling Pokémaniacs: here, they can freely watch and interact with cuddly Pokémon of all shapes and sizes while looking forward to new toys and Pokémon daily, although a few seriously misguided storage-related decisions. For everyone else, you need only look at the screenshots and your gut reaction should let you know where you stand.

46. Pokémon Masters EX (Mobile)

Pokémon Masters EX is a bit of a megahit now, with many Pokémon fans turning in for their dailies, events, and new characters. In fact, we’d say it’s one of the most well-realised Pokémon mobile titles to date – especially in terms of presentation. Partnering up with classic Pokémon characters is fun, and the game has only improved since its original release in 2019 (as Pokémon Masters). There are loot boxes galore, of course, but in terms of mobile outsings for the franchise, this is one of the better ones.

45. Learn With Pokémon: Typing Adventure (DS)

Learn With Pokémon: Typing Adventure is an unexpectedly entertaining entry to the long list of Pokémon spin-offs. While it may not teach you how to type, you will learn how to quickly spell MIENSHAO or how to tell apart a Marill from an Azurill from a distance — utterly essential life skills, if you ask us. This game is fun and challenging for both Typing Rookies and Master Typists alike; even so, it shouldn’t be considered a must-buy, even for hardcore fans of the series.

44. Pokémon Café ReMix (Switch eShop)

As a free-to-play downloadable Switch game, Pokémon Café ReMix is rather pleasant. The art style and designs are charming (especially when you recruit them and they get their uniforms), and the dishes you prepare are clever; the Fluffy Eevee Pancakes and Cheesy Rowley Pizza look particularly appetising. We think we’ll just skip straight to dessert, thanks. The microtransactions aren’t massively intrusive, the energy system isn’t too debilitating and the stages aren’t Candy Crush Saga-style efforts where it’ll take you 70 goes to get lucky enough to eventually clear them. It won’t keep you engaged forever, but it’s a nice little distraction.

43. Pokémon Channel (GCN)

Did Hey You, Pikachu! need a spiritual successor? Probably not. But that’s what Pokémon Channel is. Swapping a microphone for the Nintendo e-Reader (at least in the US and Japan), Pokémon Channel is at least more reliable than its N64 predecessor, and it’s pretty darn cute to boot (plus you got a free Jirachi in Ruby & Sapphire). But there’s just nothing to do. Wake up, watch TV, play with Pikachu — that’s basically it. The idea of taking care of Pokémon is ripe for a decent game, and Pokémon Channel feels like a missed opportunity. But hey, watching the weather with Pikachu isn’t that bad, and there are lots of collectibles to keep the youngest entertained.

42. Pokémon Quest (Switch eShop)

Pokémon Quest is a fun little time waster that will satisfy your collect ’em all urges if you’ve exhausted everything the mainline Switch Pokémons have to offer. You will have to splash some cash if you want to get the most out of it, but it’s far from a money sink. You can get everything you need in a single purchase, or unlock most of it slowly by playing for free — it’s one of the most generous ‘freemium’ systems out there. Overall, Quest is a great jumping-off point for new fans of the series, and the cutesy art style just might win over veterans. No harm in giving it a shot.

41. Pokémon Rumble U (Wii U eShop)

Pokémon Rumble U is straightforward fun that’s a far cry away from the main Pokémon titles, but it does pair some key strategic elements of the series with the button bashing – though there are definitely moments where there’s too much going on to keep real track of, which does lead to more reliance on the latter than the former. Despite its short length, there’s lots to go back to when you consider the hundreds of Pokémon to collect and challenges to beat. It’s not an essential Pokémon game by any means, but it’s a fairly decent multiplayer game.

40. Detective Pikachu Returns (Switch)

Series spin-off Detective Pikachu Returns serves up more of what delighted us first time around on 3DS, with an endearing and exciting story packed full of fun and light-hearted silliness. We really do enjoy this gruff, coffee-addled take on Pikachu, he never fails to raise a smile when he goes off on one, and the game successfully straddles a very thin line in giving us an adventure aimed at younger players that long-time Pokémon fans and ancient gamers such as ourselves can also enjoy. If you can handle the inherent repetitiveness of most of the core gameplay, alongside some rather drab visuals, you’ll enjoy this one.

39. Pokémon: Magikarp Jump (Mobile)

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump is a fascinating package. It has great style, but it severely lacks in gameplay. It feels like the epitome of a generic mobile title with a Pokémon twist, which is somewhat unfortunate. With no gameplay other than feeding the fish and playing ‘Whose stat is bigger?’, there’s just unfortunately so little to the game. It’s definitely something fun to play on the bus or the train to kill time, but it just lacks the depth that we’ve come to expect from the other Pokémon mobile titles such as Pokémon GO, Pokémon Duel, and Pokémon Shuffle. While it’s easy to recommend having it on your mobile device, it’s hard to recommend paying for microtransactions.

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